(This piece was originally printed in our sister magazine MCV in early July.)
Here, Houser recounts the highlights from his working life and Rockstar’s history so far…
1971: Born in London.
1989: Left school in London with bad A-level results.
1990: Re-did A-levels. Better results.
1990: Began summer job sorting mail at BMG Records in London.
1991: Started degree at London university.
1991-94: Worked part time at BMG on pop videos and VHS releases.
1994: Graduated from university and transferred within BMG to its interactive division.
1996: Became head of development for BMG Interactive.
1997: Released Grand Theft Auto on PC and PlayStation.
March 1998: As had been clear for a while, BMG got cold feet on the interactive division (they had lost money, due to the wisdom of doing things like opening offices in about 27 countries – including Ecuador). BMG Interactive was sold for $9 million to Take Two, a small distributor with a small publishing division in Europe and next to none in the US. Along with the people, desks and office leases, the deal also includes rights to BMGI’s games, including GTA.
July 1998: Move to New York as head of development for Take Two, with responsibility for starting a publishing business in the US.
September 1998: GTA released in the US.
October 1998: Released Space Station Silicon Valley on N64 – made by the team who would go on to make GTA III.
December 1998: Founded Rockstar Games – a high-end publishing division of Take Two, with stated goals to focus on progressive gameplay and high production values, as the company believed that games would come to compete with movies. Got laughed at a lot!
April 1999: First Rockstar release, GTA London 1969. Reaches number one in the UK.
September 1999: Take Two buys DMA Design from Infogrames (which had bought it off Gremlin or someone else, now defunct).
October 1999: GTA 2 comes out – the first Take Two game to ship a million units at launch.
October 2000: Rockstar has two games ready at the launch of PS2 – Midnight Club and Smuggler’s Run. Midnight Club goes on to become the most successful of the PS2’s launch title line-up.
October 2001: GTA III comes out. Becomes biggest PS2 game of all time.
October 2002: GTA: Vice City comes out. Becomes biggest PS2 game of all time.
October 2003: Manhunt released. Proves popular with the Daily Mail.
October 2004: GTA: San Andreas comes out. Becomes biggest PS2 game of all time.
April 2005: PSP launches – Midnight Club 3 becomes most successful launch title on system.
July 2005: Residue code found in San Andreas. Hackers modify it and it turns into scandal known as ‘Hot Coffee’. Get dragged into legal nightmare, ending in trip to Washington in February 2006 to sit in front of federal trade commission staff – for nine hours.
October 2005: GTA: Liberty City Stories comes out – becomes biggest selling game on PSP.
April 2006: Release Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis – first next-gen game, showcasing new Rage engine.
October 2006: Bully released. Proves popular with the Daily Mail.
June 2007: Manhunt 2 refused certification by BBFC.
April 2008: GTA IV released.
Other games Rockstar is very proud of, released along the way: The Warriors (2005), Red Dead Revolver, (2004), Max Payne 1 and 2 (2001, 2003), GTA: Vice City Stories (2006), Midnight Club 2, 3 and Dub Edition (2003, 2005, 2006), Smuggler’s Run 2 (2001).